DimWit Politics

Feel the Bern! Vermont’s Socialist Senator is Surging

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Feel the Bern! Vermont’s Socialist Senator is Surging

Feel the Bern!  Vermont’s Socialist Senator is Surging
December 28
23:06 2019

Don’t count Bernie Sanders out in 2020.

The 78-year old Vermont senator is surging back into contention after languishing in the middle of the Democratic candidate pack for weeks.  And even Democratic party insiders say he could end up the nominee.

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Sanders’ most notable gains have come in New Hampshire, which holds its first-in-the-nation bellwether primary less than two months from now, and in California, a blockbuster state that accounts for the largest single share of delegates in the race.

In New Hampshire, Sanders now has a slight lead over the entire Democratic field in the Real Clear Politics average of recent statewide polls, though in some of those polls he actually leads his next competitor by high single-digits.

In California, Sandes has catapulted into a statistical tie with Joe Biden, though he also has a single-digit lead over Biden and the rest of the field in two of the last three polls.

One good reason for the Sanders surge in California? He’s gaining among the state’s Hispanic votes thanks largely to the endorsement of Rep. Alexandra Ocaso-Cortes, the Latina firebrand congresswoman who endorsed Sanders in New York over a month ago and who’s been campaigning with him at stops throughout the Golden State.

Sanders already has a leg up with younger Latino voters as part of his broad appeal to youth, but with AOC’s help, he’s going after the more moderate over-50 Hispanics that normally tilt toward Biden.  He’s doing it in a way he hasn’t previously, holding Spanish-language town halls that appeal to older Hispanics as well as to first-generation immigrants still struggling with English.

The evidence suggests that the strategy’s already paying dividends.

In fact, Sanders now has the lead among Hispanic Democrats nationally, which will help him in a number of other Latino-rich states including Nevada, the third major contest which holds its caucuses on February 22.

The Sanders surge isn’t just limited to specific states.  Nationally, Sanders has catapulted into second place just behind Biden, suggesting he may well become the candidate best able to consolidate the backing of party progressives, especially women, who’ve been drawn in the past to Elizabeth Warren.

Sanders is also the only other candidate besides Biden who polls well in a hypothetical match up with Donald Trump, with a 4-6 point lead over the president in most head-to-head polls

Sanders continues to be underestimated by pundits and politicians alike.  There’s a widespread perception that Sanders’s embrace of the “democratic socialist” label would make him a liability as the party’s nominee but in fact, there’s little actual evidence that he’s any less “electable” than Biden.

Many people forget that Sanders is building on the powerful grassroots organizing and fundraising network that he fashioned in 2016 when he almost wrested the nomination away from Hillary Clinton, who was heavily favored by Democratic party elites

Most of those elites favor Biden this time around, but there’s a difference:  the party “super-delegates” that helped tilt the 2016 race to Clinton early are staying neutral until the Democratic convention next summer.  They’ll be under heavy pressure this time to weigh in behind the top delegate winner, no matter who he or she is.

Could it be Sanders?  In theory, yes, if he continues his current surge.  But the real problem is likely to be that no candidate will command a majority, leaving room for lots of backroom deal-making that could leave Sanders on the outs.

It’s not unthinkable that Biden, if he wins a plurality of delegates, might seek to appease party progressives by putting Kamala Harris or even former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams — both African-American — on the ticket.

Biden has already met with Abrams and floated the idea and Abrams has deliberately passed up a Georgia Senate run in the event that she’s “needed” as a running mate.  Sanders could easily avail himself of the same option, bolstering his credibility with African-Americans.

But could a Biden-Abrams or Sanders-Abrams ticket actually win in 2020?  It seems unlikely given how strong Trump’s position is becoming with a booming economy and a rising job approval rating, with even 20% of Democrats saying they approve of his performance.

But Sanders retains a high favorability rating with American voters and consistently polls well in the Rust Belt where the 2020 race may well be decided.

And if Abrams or Harris can help Sanders (or Biden) rally African-Americans to an Obama-era level of voter turnout, it could give the Democrats a better-than-expected shot at recapturing the White House in 2020.

About Author

Stewart L

Stewart L

Stewart Lawrence is a trained sociologist and political scientist and a regular columnist for the Washington Times and the Federalist. He is also a former feature contributor to Inside Philanthropy, Counterpunch and the Huffington Post. In 2012 and 2016, he covered the US presidential election campaign for the conservative news magazine Daily Caller. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor and Washington Post. He is currently working on a book about the politics of US immigration policy.

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